12/11/2018 - 06:37
By Catherine Shanahan
Update: Pilots who reported a UFO over Ireland on Friday, most likely saw a shooting star, according to a leading expert.
Shannon Air Traffic control was contacted by a captain flying over Kerry to say she had seen a speeding bright light, with two other pilots in the area confirming the sighting.
The Aviation Authority of Ireland has launched an investigation.
Aviation journalist Gerry Byrne said: "In all probability they were meteorites and it's not uncommon for meteorites to come in at a low angle, a low trajectory into the Earth's atmosphere."
- Additional reporting by Digital Desk
The Irish Aviation Authority has begun an investigation into the sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) by a number of aircraft off the south-west coast of Ireland last Friday.
At approximately 6.47am on November 9, the pilot of a British Airways flight, call sign Speedbird94, contacted Shannon Air Traffic Control (ATC) to ask if there were military exercises taking place in the airspace through which her Boeing 787 was passing.
There were no military exercises underway.
Shannon ATC replied: “There is nothing showing on either primary or secondary [radar].”
The pilot responded: “OK. It was moving so fast.”
The controller then asked: “Alongside you?”
The BA pilot, flying from Montreal to Heathrow, describes how the UFO came up along the left-hand side of the aircraft, “then rapidly veered to the north”.
She said it was “a very bright light” that “disappeared at very high speed”.
She said they were “wondering” what it could be, that it did not seem to be on a collision course.
Scroll to 17m to hear interaction
The pilot of a Virgin Airlines Boeing 747, call sign Virgin76, then joined the conversation and made reference to a meteor or another object re-entering the earth’s atmosphere and said there were “multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory”.
He said they were very bright “where we were”.
Shannon ATC than asked if the pilots knew which direction the objects were heading. The Virgin Airlines pilot said it was in his “11 o’clock position” with “two bright lights over to the right”, that then climbed away at speed. Shannon ATC told the pilot it would pass that information on. Shannon ATC then told Speedbird94 that “other aircraft in the air have also reported the same thing so we are going to have a look and see”.
Another pilot said the speed of the UFO was “astronomical, it was like Mach 2”, or twice the speed of sound.
The Virgin Airlines flight, from Orlando to Manchester, can carry 455 passengers, while the 787 has 214 seats. A third aircraft, a Norwegian Air 737 travelling from Stewart, New York, to Shannon, which can carry 200 passengers, was also party to the conversation.
The BA flight was passing over Kerry at the time, while the other two flights were off the south-west coast, heading eastbound, and in high-level airspace, which extends from 24,500ft upwards.
The Irish Examiner contacted the Irish Aviation Authority to ask if it was investigating the UFO.
In a statement, the authority said: “Following reports from a small number of aircraft on Friday, November 9, of unusual air activity, the IAA has filed a report.
“This report will be investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process.”